November 4, 2019 – November 10, 2019
European airspace and defense firm Airbus unveiled the Low-Observable UAV Testbed (LOUT), a prototype stealth drone that it has been developing secretly with the German military for over a decade. The testbed, which is not intended for flight trials, weighs four tons and has a 12-meter width and length. It is designed to evaluate a range of technologies for avoiding detection by enemy air defenses. (Aviation International Online)
The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore has announced a new mandatory registration system for drone users. Under the new requirements, which will go into effect in January, all drones over 250 grams must display a sticker bearing a unique registration number. Violators could face a fine of more than $7,000 or up to six months in jail. (FlightGlobal)
The U.S. Army has selected General Dynamics Land Systems to produce the Squad Multipurpose Equipment Transport (SMET) unmanned ground vehicle. Under the $162.4 million contract, General Dynamics will produce 624 SMET vehicles designed to carry upwards of 1,000 pounds of military equipment for infantry squads. The first deliveries are expected in fiscal year 2021. (Defense News)
Know Your Drone
HAPSMobile, a joint venture between AeroVironment and SoftBank, announced that it completed a second test flight of its Hawk30, a solar-powered, high-altitude pseudo-satellite drone. (FlightGlobal)
Meanwhile, drone maker UAVOS conducted the first test flight of the newest version of its ApusDuo high-altitude pseudo-satellite drone. (Unmanned Systems Technology)
A team at Harvard University working under the RoboBees program has developed soft actuator systems that make its nano drones less susceptible to damage from impacts in flight. (Nature)
In a test, the U.S. Air Force used a Lockheed Martin Advanced Test High Energy Asset (ATHENA) laser system to shoot down multiple drones. (UPI)
Russia’s Zhukovsky Air Force Academy and Russian firms Autonomous Aerospace Systems – GeoService and Kronstadt Group unveiled Flock-93, a concept for a system of long-range swarming vertical take-off and landing drones. (C4ISRNET)
Meanwhile, Russian newspaper Izvestia has reported that in the Tsentr-2019 wargame in September, the Russian military conducted a test in which several small drones destroyed a range of targets autonomously. (Defense One)
A team from Johns Hopkins University is exploring how the aerodynamics of mosquito wings could serve as inspiration for developing quieter drone propulsion systems. (TechXplore)
U.S. startup Drone Amplified has developed a system for scattering fire-igniting chemical spheres, which are used for fire control operations, from small drones. (AUVSI)
Drone maker Volocopter and agricultural equipment firm John Deere unveiled the VoloDrone, a jointly developed crop-spraying drone. (Shephard Media)
The U.S. Navy is working to equip its fleet of MQ-8C Fire Scout helicopter drones with Link 16 jam-resistant communications relay terminals. (FlightGlobal)
U.S. drone maker TerraView unveiled the RangePro X8, an industrial data collection multirotor drone. (Press Release)
Maritime sensing systems firm Sofar Ocean Technologies unveiled the Strider, a small solar-powered unmanned surface vessel for data collection operations. (AUVSI)
Sensor maker FLIR Systems unveiled the Fido X4, an explosives trace detector that can be mounted on an unmanned ground vehicle. (Unmanned Systems Technology)
Drones at Work
UPS Flight Forward conducted the first U.S. drone deliveries of prescription medicine as part of a pilot program in Cary, North Carolina with pharmacy chain CVS. (Reuters)
The Howard County Police Department in Maryland has acquired three drones as part of a yearlong field evaluation. (The Baltimore Sun)
Meanwhile, the Wadena County Sheriff’s Office in Minnesota has acquired a drone. (Wadena Pioneer-Journal)
Iran’s state news agency reported that Iranian military forces shot down what they describe as a foreign drone in Khuzestan province. (Reuters)
The Zanzibar Malaria Elimination Program has launched a program to evaluate the effectiveness of drones for spraying rice fields with insecticide as part of an effort to reduce malaria in the country. (Associated Press)
U.S. drone maker General Atomics Aeronautical Systems announced that its Predator drone family has surpassed six million flight hours over the course of 430,495 missions. (Unmanned Systems Technology)
European standards agency EUROCAE has established a working group to develop standards for counter-drone systems. (Unmanned Airspace)
U.K. firm Heliguy has installed a counter-drone system at Gatwick airport. (Commercial Drone Professional)
The U.K. Ministry of Defence will provide GBP 2 million in funding for 18 projects to develop counter-drone technologies as part of the Defence and Security Accelerator program. (ZDNet)
AeroVironment announced that it has been awarded a $6.4 million contract for RQ-11 Raven drones by an unnamed country in Southeast Asia. (Press Release)
The Royal Thai Navy awarded Schiebel a contract for Camcopter S-100 drones, which it intends to deploy in 2020. (Naval Technology)
The Australian Army awarded AVT Australia a $5.2 million contract for the development of a micro gimbal system for drones. (Defence Connect)
Meanwhile, the Australian Army awarded Textron Systems a $3.4 million contract for continued research and development work on drone technology. (Defence Connect)
The U.S. Navy awarded Subuas a $1.5 million contract for work on unmanned air-sea vehicle coordination for mine countermeasures. (FBO)
The U.S. Air Force awarded Raytheon a $4.4 million foreign military sales contract for six MTS-B DAS-4 for the Royal Netherlands Air Force MQ-9 Reaper program. (FBO)
The Swedish Armed Material Agency and Textron have settled on an agreement for continued maintenance and upgrades for Sweden’s RQ-7 Shadow. (Press Release)
The French Army is expected to take delivery of the first five Safran Patroller drones in December 2019. (La Tribune)
Airbus will fund the development of next-generation batteries made by Amprius for the high-altitude Zephyr drone. (Unmanned Systems Technology)
Airbus, Dassault, and Leonardo are close to finalizing the scope and price of the planned European medium-altitude long-endurance drone. (Jane’s)
Commentary, Analysis, and Art
At The Drive, Brett Tingley looks at a U.S. Navy research program developing networks of drones to serve as a phantom fleet that diverts enemy attacks from real vessels.
At Drone Wars UK, Chris Cole examines reports by the Ministry of Defence to understand what and whom the Royal Air Force is targeting with its fleet of MQ-9 Reapers.
At Axios, Kaveh Waddell examines job posting data to understand which parts of the U.S. will benefit from a coming wave of drone jobs.
At City & State New York, Jeff Coltin looks at efforts to roll-back a strict no-fly law in New York City.
At The New York Times, Bradley Berman examines a year-old pilot program at the University of California, Berkely to use robots to deliver food to students.
Drone Industry Insights published the Drone Delivery Market Map outlining key segments and players in the industry. (DroneLife)
In a speech at the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence, U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper warned that the proliferation of Chinese drones could be dangerous.
At Forbes, Simon Chandler argues that the U.K.’s drone registration program is a tax on British drone users.
At Popular Mechanics, Kyle Mizokami looks at efforts to replace costly aircraft carriers with drone motherships.
At Via Satellite, Svend Holme Sorenson asks whether drones are subjected to enough testing.
At Stuff.co.nz, Felicity Monk profiles Petra Leary, a New Zealand-based photographer who is gaining international acclaim for her drone photos.